A couple of weeks ago I was chatting with Kyle late on a Friday afternoon and whining about another weekend of riding the mountain bike on the road. He was signed up to do the Dirty Dozen on a 4-person team the next day and I was jealous that he was going to ride dirt - even if it was going to be muddy. Being the person that he is I got "Come down and do the 6 hour!" as a response. We went back and forth with "I can't - not enough notice"; "Do it!"; "Dad will get mad if I get my bike dirty"; "Do it on the SS!"; I can't....; Yes, you can...
A little bit later I was talking to Alan and told him that Kyle was trying to talk me into coming down and doing the race. Expecting support in my decision to be a responsible adult, instead I heard "Why not - go ahead". o.O "Really?" "Really!" "I shouldn't." "If you didn't want to do it, you wouldn't of said anything, so go." With that final comment I finished up what I was working on, straightened my desk and bid the ladies at work a good weekend, then hauled butt home to load up and head back down to the ATX. When I got home I found Alan getting things together for me, so no question about him being OK with this.
With the late start I got the pleasure of sitting in rush hour traffic and adding an extra hour to the drive. It was a bit late when I got to the apartment, quite late by time we called it a night and ridiculously early when the alarm went off 4-1/2 hours later. Before the sun was up we had made it to the ranch, found Kyle's teammates and scored a sweet parking spot close to the transition area.
The race has a Le Mans start where all the racers have to run to their bikes. One of Kyle's teammates was holding my bike for me, which was nice. The only problem was that I didn't know where she was in the group of other holders. I finally found Kim and tried to jump on the bike and forgot that it's a 29er and didn't throw my leg up high enough. I finally got on the bike without falling over, barely, and just hoped that this wasn't an indication of how the day was going to be. I only had one other "oops - wrong bike" moment when I went to shift gears that the single-speed didn't have.
The first lap was pretty uneventful, just riding the course and getting the hang of a bike that didn't have gears. The trail condition wasn't too bad; water in the low spots and some sections that were definitely mushy. I went straight into the second lap getting comfortable with the bike and knowing what I could and could not ride and where I needed to save up some energy to get up and over. I was feeling pretty good and planning on a little break after finishing the lap. I was coming up on a little rooty down, less than a mile from the finish, when next thing I know I'm off the bike, going over the bars and then hitting the ground - hard. I catch my breath, do a quick assessment (good thing the ground was soft!) and get going again.
Time to take a little break, get some food, change out of my now muddy jersey, put on dry socks and head out on lap three. While some sections of the trail were developing some deep muddy sections that you had to keep your momentum up or you were going to get bogged down, other sections where actually drying out and looking quite nice. The third lap was pretty uneventful, when I got to me previous crash site I got off the bike to walk down and about that time another racer passed me and next thing I see is his feet in the air. OK, so walking that wasn't such a bad idea. I finish the lap and take another little break for food and fresh drink.
Back on the bike for lap four, the mud pits are getting deeper and longer and I'm starting to feel riding a bigger bike without gears. I'm getting a little tired and am riding a little more cautiously... which is not always a good thing. If you look at this picture of me you'll see a tree on the side of the trail. Well on the 4th lap, I hit a root or something because suddenly I'm traveling in a direction not of my choosing. I see the tree approaching my face quickly, I get my hand up to take the brunt of the impact (better than my face!) and then the bike and I tumble off to the side and land in a tangled heap. I guess it was dramatic enough looking of a crash that several people stopped to make sure I was OK. Once I find out that no one had a camera running I assure everyone that I'm alright and get free of my bike and back on the trail. I finish that lap (once again walking the 1st crash site... and seeing someone else crash there) and head for the pit.
I vacillate over whether or not to go out for another lap, finally I decide that going out will only lead to another crash and I call the race done after four laps. I finished 5th out of 7 solo women for the 6 hour race and I was 3rd of the three of us that did the event on single-speeds. If I had continued for a 5th lap I probably would of finished 4th overall and I may have been able to move into 3rd if I could have done a 6th lap... but shoulda, woulda, coulda - I didn't, so it doesn't matter. As Alan said - I can always redeem myself next year.
Assorted race pictures
Kyle's race report
1 hour ago